Legal Ethics

Ethics allegations cloud Texas attorney general race


The fight for the Republican nomination for attorney general in Texas has taken a turn, thanks to legal ethics allegations against the front-runner, state Sen. Ken Paxton.

In a Friday article from KUT.org, the Austin, Texas, affiliate of National Public Radio, Paxton is facing allegations that he did not disclose work that he performed as an attorney soliciting clients for a financial services firm. Two weeks ago, the Texas Tribune obtained letters that showed Paxton was being paid by Mowrey Capital Management during a time period that he wasn’t registered with the state’s securities board. According to the Tribune, Paxton failed to disclose his work for Mowrey on the personal financial statements that he filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

According to KUT, the allegations could open the door to the man challenging Paxton for the Republican nod. Paxton finished first in the Republican primary conducted in March, besting his nearest challenger, state Rep. Dan Branch, by 11 percentage points. However, since Paxton failed to win a majority, he and Branch were forced into a runoff, which is scheduled for May 27. Both men are running to replace outgoing attorney general Greg Abbott, who is running for governor. In recent years, winning the Republican nomination has been tantamount to election in Texas. The state hasn’t had a Democratic attorney general since 1999.

Branch, for his part, has been hammering Paxton over the ethics allegations. “We can’t have a Republican standard-bearer be tarnished and under a cloud as we head into November, were he to be the Republican nominee,” Branch said to KUT. “So we need to get this issue resolved now before the voters before they make up their mind on May 27th.”

KUT reports that, despite the ethics allegations against Paxton, it’s Branch who has the bigger albatross around his neck. Namely, Branch is seen as being more moderate than Paxton. “Do you vote for the crook or do you vote for the political moderate?” Dallas Morning News senior political writer Wayne Slater said to KUT. “And it’s funny at this moment—the expectation is that the electorate that shows up for this runoff is going to be so conservative, so committed, the kind of people who are going to show up in a runoff are going to be the voters who would rather vote against a moderate, even if it’s for a perceived or accused crook.”

According to KUT, Paxton’s campaign did not return requests for an interview.

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